INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
CENTRAL REMEDIAL CLINIC (CRC)
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Alleged obstruction to a fair and timely investigation of a complaint.
2. The dispute concerns a claim by the Union, on behalf of its member, that management failed to address in a fair way the worker's disagreement with their findings in relation to a claim of bullying. The Union is seeking the following:-
(a) that an independent investigation into the worker's complaint by a person agreeable to both sides,
(b) terms of reference to be agreed in advance,
(c) that any difficulties in reaching agreement on the framework can be referred back to the Court.
The worker has been employed by CRC for twenty-two years.
Management rejects the Union's claim. It states that it undertook an investigation into the complaint of bullying. However, no evidence was found to substantiate the claim. The alleged complaint was lodged following a change in the computer based filing system at the Central Remedial Clinic.
The Union referred the dispute to the Labour Court on the 10th July, 2002, under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969, and agreed to be bound by the Court's Recommendation. The Court investigated the dispute on the 25th October, 2002.
3. 1. Management should compensate the worker for the distress and upset caused to the worker by the failure of management to deal with her complaint in a fair and timely manner.
2. The claimant was denied her most basic right to have her concern dealt with as speedily as possible.
3. The CRC could not find a sustainable case of bullying. However, the worker only sought an independent opinion on this view.
4. Management's policy on harassment/bullying is flawed as it does not have an appeal mechanism.
5. An independent investigation is a recognised mechanism for resolving such issues and is supported by the latest Codes of Practice prepared by the Labour Relations Commission, the Health and Safety Authority and the Equality Authority.
4. 1. The CRC undertook an investigation into the worker's complaint but found no evidence of bullying.
2. Management suggested a mediator to assist in resolving the issues and to facilitate a return to a normal working environment.
3. The CRC agreed to an independent investigation of the worker's complaint. However, this was rejected by the Union when management requested that the parties agree in advance to accept the outcome of the investigation.
4. Counselling was provided for the claimant in accordance with company policy and in recognition of the fact that the claimant was clearly feeling aggrieved at work.
5. The CRC continue to have no clear indications as to the exact nature of the claimant's "ongoing sense of grievance".
The Court considered the comprehensive written and oral submissions made by the parties.
It appeared in the written submissions that the parties had made significant progress towards setting up an independent investigation into this case. However, during the hearing it emerged that the basis for such an investigation was not as firm as had been stated.
It was accepted by Management that its procedures allowed for an individual who was dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation, to bring the matter through the industrial relations procedures. In this case this would be the Labour Relations Commission and the Labour Court.
Given the history of this case and the discussions in the Court on the proposed independent review the Court recommends that the parties agree to progress the case through the Rights Commissioners process and if necessary to the Labour Court.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
7th November, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.